Dog tear stains, or the reddish-brown streaks beneath your dog’s eyes, are caused by an overproduction of tears. Tear stains are incredibly common, especially in certain breeds such as the Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, and Maltese. It is more visible on dogs with light colored coats, especially white dogs. In most cases, dog tear stains create an ugly eyesore with the potential to become irritated or infected. But, in some cases, tear stains can be a sign of a more serious eye issue.
Why are tear stains a rusty-brown color? Why do some tear stains smell? And how do you help treat and prevent them? You’re about to find out!
Common Causes of Dog Tear Stains
Epiphora is the technical term for an overproduction of tears, aka tear staining. While your dog may naturally produce more tears than necessary, it’s always best to rule out the possibility of an underlying health condition. The most common health-related causes of epiphora or tear stains include:
- Eye infection
- Ingrown lashes
- Yeast buildup
- Brachycephalic syndrome
- Certain medications
- A low quality diet
- High stress
- Abnormally small tear duct openings
- Inverted eyelid (entropion)
- Ear infection
- Second hand smoke, or other allergens
- Plastic food bowls (another potential allergen)
Why Do Tear Stains Turn Reddish-Brown?
For one, dog tearstains usually contain porphyrins, a naturally occurring iron-rich molecule that is a waste product produced when red blood cells break down. While porphyrins are usually removed from the body through poop, dogs and cats can excrete it through their tears, saliva and urine. When porphyrins sit on your dog’s light-colored fur, it turns a reddish-brown color. And you’re not imagining it, stains can darken after exposure to sunlight.
If stains are more brown than red, it may signal a yeast infection, a common side effect of constantly moist surfaces. Another sign of a yeast infection is a foul odor. So, if your dog’s face smells, there’s a greater chance it’s turned into an infection that requires additional treatment.
If you think your dog’s tear stains have morphed into a yeast or bacterial infection, Wrinkle Balm can help! This gentle, organic and 100% all-natural balm includes anti-fungal properties that can knock out bacteria, yeast, and nasty smells too. It can also be used as a protective barrier for skin when applied along tearstain tracks.
Avoid Tear Stain Products that Contain Tylosin Tartrate
In early November 2014, the FDA warned U.S. manufacturers to stop selling tearstain products containing Tylosin Tartrate, an antibiotic that is not approved for dogs or the treatment of tearstains. The FDA said if the antibiotic was not removed from products, they would be seized or have an injunction filed against them. Carefully read product labels and make sure you know and understand every ingredient before giving it to your pup.
Tips to Prevent and Get Rid of Dog Tear Stains
- Clean and wipe dry your dog’s face and eyes several times throughout the day to prevent moisture from causing bacterial or yeast infections.
- Use an all-natural product like Wrinkle Balm to treat secondary infections or skin ailments associated with tearstains. Apply a small layer of Wrinkle Balm along tear stain tracks to help reduce irritation and inflammation of the skin.
- Use a natural dog shampoo to wash skin twice a day until your dog starts to heal
- Switch your dog to filtered water; tap water may contain higher levels of iron and other impurities.
- Ditch allergy-provoking plastic food bowls and invest in glass or stainless steel.
- Make sure your dog gets a high-quality diet with all the nutrients they need. The less ‘fillers’ your dog’s food contains, the fewer impurities the body has to filter out.
- Visit your veterinarian to ensure dog tear stains are not related to a more serious issue.
Why Tear Stains Often Impact Brachycephalic Dogs
Brachycephalic dog breeds range to include all dogs with short noses (including the pug, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Pekingese, Boston terrier, French bulldog, and many more). Due to their facial structure, brachycephalic dogs are more prone to certain issues, often related to breathing. They can also be prone to tear stains, especially if they have buggy eyes that are more exposed to the elements, dry eyes, corneal ulcers, or trauma—all of which can lead to tear stains.
Moisture attracts bacteria, hence why tear stains are associated with skin inflammation, irritation and infection. Wrinkle Balm is the perfect product for brachycephalic breeds who are more prone to tear stains and subsequent skin infections. It soothes and heals irritated skin while combating yeast and bacterial infections. Plus, it’s safe enough to use on your dog’s face and all the way down to their cute little tail pocket.
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